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New Gun Restrictions For Domestic Abusers In Utah

“The state needs to be able to protect people from danger,” Representative Brian King said in a January 27 press release announcing his intention to House Bill (HB) 206, which amends provisions relating to certain weapons restrictions relating to domestic violence by expanding the scope of a Category II restricted person. “This bill puts teeth into an already existing federal law. We need to be able to enforce these laws. Domestic violence accounts for nearly one-third of all homicides in Utah. This includes children. That is unacceptable.”

Governor Gary Herbert signed HB 206 on March 23, and the bill amends Utah Code § 76-10-503 such that a Category II restricted person now also includes a person who:

  • is a respondent or defendant subject to a protective order or child protective order that is issued after a hearing for which the respondent or defendant received actual notice and at which the respondent or defendant has an opportunity to participate, that restrains the respondent or defendant from harassing, stalking, threatening, or engaging in other conduct that would place an intimate partner, as defined in 18 U.S. Code § 921, or a child of the intimate partner, in reasonable fear of bodily injury to the intimate partner or child of the intimate partner, and that includes a finding that the respondent or defendant represents a credible threat to the physical safety of an individual who meets the definition of an intimate partner in 18 U.S. Code § 921 or the child of the individual; or explicitly prohibits the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force that would reasonably be expected to cause bodily harm against an intimate partner or the child of an intimate partner; or
  • has been convicted of the commission or attempted commission of assault under Utah Code § 76-5-102 or aggravated assault under Utah Code § 76-5-103 against a current or former spouse, parent, guardian, individual with whom the restricted person shares a child in common, individual who is cohabitating or has cohabitated with the restricted person as a spouse, parent, or guardian, or against an individual similarly situated to a spouse, parent, or guardian of the restricted person.

The same day that he signed HB 206, Governor Herbert also signed HB 198, which amended the conceal carry restrictions under Utah Code § 53-5-704.5 such that people only need to be at least 18 years of age instead of 21 in order to obtain concealed carry permits. HB 206 passed the House with 72 yeas, no nays, and three absent or not voting, while there were 23 yeas, two nays, and four absent or not voting in the Senate.

Salt Lake City Attorney for Persons Restricted from Firearm Possession

Numerous organizations, including Americans for Responsible Solutions—the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Navy combat veteran and NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly—applauded the legislation that brought Utah more in line with federal law and better protects victims of domestic abuse from gun violence. According to the Utah Department of Health, there is approximately one intimate partner-related homicide every 33 days in Utah.

Last year, the United States Supreme Court ruled in a 6-2 vote that domestic abusers convicted of misdemeanors can be barred from owning firearms. In Voisine v. United States, 579 U.S. ___ (2016), the Court held that reckless domestic assault qualifies as a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.”

Alleged incidents of domestic violence are often emotionally charged, and police officers responding to domestic violence calls are often inclined to arrest alleged offenders even when there might not be evidence to support the criminal charges. If you were arrested for an alleged domestic violence offense in Utah, a conviction could substantially affect your right to own or possess a firearm.

You should not say anything to authorities without legal representation. Contact an experienced Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.

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About the Author

Darren Levitt is a trial attorney and founder and manager of the law firm Levitt Legal, PLLC. As an attorney, Darren works to protect, defend and uphold the freedom, liberty, property, and constitutional and unalienable rights of individuals.